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Hoppin' John

Hoppin' John from "Southern from Scratch"

Serves: 6 to 8

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2 cups black-eyed peas or cowpeas
1 tablespoon bacon drippings
1 celery stalk, diced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 bay leaves
1 ham hock
Freshly ground black pepper
Several dashes of hot sauce
2 cups cooked white rice, for serving
Southern greens, for serving


Put the black-eyed peas in a medium mixing bowl, cover with hot tap water, and leave to soak for 2 hours. Drain off the soaking water and set the peas aside.

Warm the bacon drippings over medium heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the celery, onion, and bell pepper, and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables are fragrant and limp.

Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the soaked peas, stock, thyme, salt, bay leaves, ham hock, and several grinds of pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, until the peas are tender but not mushy.

Drain the peas and place them in a medium mixing bowl. Check the salt, adjusting to taste as needed.

Remove the ham hock, and use a fork to pull the ham off the bone. Cut any large pieces into small sizes, and add back to the bowl of peas. Stir in a few dashes of hot sauce and serve immediately with the rice and Southern greens.

Photo: Johnny Autry

About the recipe

For my entire life nearly without fail, I have eaten Hoppin’ John every New Year’s day, even during those years I kept a vegan or vegetarian diet. I think it’s safe to call consuming it a Southern New Year’s ritual. A dish of black-eyed peas and rice, served alongside collard greens, the meal is believed to be auspicious, bringing luck and fortune in the year to come, with the beans representing coins and the greens paper currency. It’s far too delicious, however, to eat only once a year.

From "Southern from Scratch: Pantry Essentials and Down-Home Recipes" by Ashley English, © 2018 by Ashley English. Photographs by Johnny Autry, © 2018 by Johnny Autry. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.